Wwii Essay, Research Paper
World War I was to end all wars. The people of that generation truly believed that the aftermath of WWI had been destructive and painful for everyone. However, within almost thirty years racism, hatred and a man by the name of Hitler, who will remain one of the most ruthless men in history, sprung into existence like a vicious serpent. Even today his name alone is spine chilling and puts fear in people s hearts. He spread his poisonous venom (anti Semitism) and killed millions of people including
6 000 000 Jews. He was the very essence of Nazism. Terror was present in each of the countries under Nazi domination. Poland was the setting of the holocaust. The Nazis, with their white supremacist mentality, brought forth the German Nazi decreed and hatred toward the Jews: You have no right to live. Why? Many factors contributed to why Hitler despised the Jewish race. The Jews not the Romans were blamed for the crucifixion of Christ, they were labeled as greedy, and they were blamed for Germany s loss in WWI. Hitler attempted to create the ideal German nation and anyone with imperfections, Jewish people included, was reduced to all that was bad and immoral. Hitler was full of hatred and vengeance against the Jewish race. He developed a method of control called the ghetto . This is where most of the Jewish people were forced to reside. The ghettos were sealed and often surrounded with barbed wire or walls. Jewish men, women and children were not allowed to leave the ghetto without authorization. Their businesses, their homes, even their values, hopes, and dreams were taken away from them and they believed that these were truly the worst living conditions they would possibly encounter. They were later placed in concentration camps, humiliated, laughed at, tortured, and burned in cremation ovens for no apparent reason other than hatred. The Holocaust experience must be taught and explained to the younger generations so it is never repeated. In both novels, Schindler s List and Night, the authors vividly portrayed the Jewish people s fears, pain, and emotional suffering during the Holocaust. Although most of their family members were killed and the reasons to stay alive were minimal, their hope to survive never died. The ounce of hope they had left allowed them to continue until the end where they became liberated
History books tell us that not all Germans believed in Hitler s dictatorial Final Solution . Most Germans were frightened and threatened that if they tried to provide hiding places for Jews or were accomplices in trying to help them escape, they would be killed. Even though these threats and punishments existed, human compassion, love and respect for human beings in general, regardless of race, overpowered Hitler s hatred. People like Oskar Schindler and many others truly believed in the power of love, respect of others and the equal treatment of human kind. Schindler says to Stern a Jew I value your opinion (Schindler s List 76), which was extremely rare and dangerous at the time. All human beings must be treated with respect and dignity, but during the horrors of the Holocaust, many stories, verbal and written, clearly revealed the pain and suffering of the Jewish people. Both novels, Schindler s List and Night, vividly describe, in detail, the endless pain and anguish of the Jewish people. The horror of the conditions of the concentration camps was an image of hungry, weak men, women and children, entering the gates of hell, wondering if they would ever come out alive or if their bodies will be converted into piles of anonymous powdered ash (Eban 57). In Night, Wiesel says, I shall never forget that night, the first night in the camp, which has turned my life into one long night. ( Night 32). The one long night is a powerful image identifying the sense of the darkness, the torture, and constant agony that his life was full of as a result of the nights he spent there. Judy Cohen, a holocaust survivor, also described her constant companions in the concentration camp as the fear of death, fear of hunger and the fear of losing loves ones. Anticipation of who died next was another fear. Who will be the next to enter the burning flames of hell the ovens the weak, the sick, or an innocent child? And that smell in the air they would question Was it my family or someone else s? And did it matter? The smell of burning human flesh was so strong that it was a constant reminder that faith and hope for survival were nowhere near.
This loss of faith and hope came in two different forms during the holocaust physical and emotional deterioration. The physical pain that these victims were subjected to by the Nazi regime was too terrible for even the hardest men to bear (Eban 59). They were treated like cargo tossed from one place to the next beaten, whipped, burned, stamped, and delivered to be exterminated with strangers (Eban 59). These people s emotional heartache was greater than their physical torment. Historical and war literature, along with movies, revealed these innocent people s fears, hopes, dreams and emotional anguish they encountered. However unless one listens to a Holocaust survivor, such as Mrs. Cohen, one could not conceive the emotional and physical distress that occurred during the holocaust. When one listened to Mrs. Cohen, he/she sees the emotional scars, even after fifty years of rehabilitation. The loss of her loved ones, including her mother brought tears to her eyes and she wishes she had had the opportunity to say goodbye to her. She was selected and taken away from her family within seconds. The closest she ever got to her mother after that point was every time she took a breath of the smoke filled air coming from the furnaces.
Although many were killed during this horrifying ordeal, many survived because of their faith and hope. Some survived because of luck, others because of the help of some courageous people. Oskar Schindler was a hero to 6 000 Jews. Schindler gave people hope. He reassured people that not everyone was evil and cruel, and most importantly, that Jews were not to blame. He allowed Jewish families to stay together, he allowed workers to practice religion, and he even kissed a Jewish girl on her birthday, which he was arrested for shortly after. Regina Perlman, a Jew living in the city on forged papers, believed it essential that she get her parents into Schindler s backyard camp. (Schindler s List 204). All of these factors were a great contribution to people s strength and will to survive. But, what about those who survived without Schindler? Judy Cohen was one of them. Mrs. Cohen was separated from her entire family and was sent to a concentration camp all alone at the tender age of 16. Although Judy was young and afraid, she found her own will to survive. She asked two other girls in her camp if they would be camp sisters with her. As their relationship progressed, Judy and her camp sisters developed a bond, similar to that between biological sisters. That bond is what kept Judy going. She had someone who cared and encouraged her and in the end, she survived. However, Mrs. Cohen and the Schindler survivors were dependent on others for their hope and encouragement to survive, however, Wiesel was not. Wiesel had his father s encouragement by his side for a long time but his father died before they were liberated. Wiesel was only a teen then. He was extremely affected by the events during that time and had lost all faith in God. Where is God now? (Night 62), he questioned. After his father died he had no reason to live, leaving his life in the hands of fate, I have nothing to say of my life during this period. It no longer mattered. After my father s death nothing could touch me any more.
Wiesel, a holocaust survivor, who is presently a professor at the University in Boston, wrote the Nobel Prize winning novel Night to narrate his experience in order to educate future generations about the terrifying effects of racism and hatred. It stresses how important it is to love our neighbor. Unfortunately the future doesn t look much brighter, according to Judy Cohen. The venom hasn t completely washed away. The Nazi mentality, white supremacy and anti – Semitism still exist, but in a smaller form. Unfortunately people of the present and future generations are not fully aware of how discrimination, taking root in small beginnings, leads to vast and uncontrollable disaster (Eban 61).
Since WWI did not end all wars, let s hope that the catastrophe of WWII and the horrors of the holocaust has taught and shown humans the ruins and disasters of hatred. Eban states: Man is the only animal able to transmit experience. And the transmission of experience is the central core of education and moral progress. (60). Educating and reminding future generations of the horrors of our past mistakes, and the effects of our inhumane acts, is the only way to prevent history from repeating itself.